Sleep Disorders Skyrocketing Among US Military

Sleep Disorders Are Skyrocketing Among US Military Personnel, Study Finds

Excerpts from

12 Apr 2021 | By Patricia Kime

A new study has found that serious sleep disorders are on the rise in the US military — conditions that can affect readiness and cause short- and long-term physical and mental health problems for troops and veterans.

Army Reserve wheeled vehicle mechanic sleeps

According to research from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, insomnia diagnoses increased 45-fold, and obstructive sleep apnea rose 30-fold, among US service members from 2005 to 2019.

The increases should concern military leaders and doctors as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs, which provides medical treatment for veterans with service-related conditions, said retired Army Col. (Dr.) Vincent Mysliwiec, a sleep expert and one of the study’s authors.

“A large percentage of military veterans have insomnia and sleep apnea. We’re trying to develop a better understanding of the factors that go into sleep disturbances that can develop into sleep disorders in the military,” he said.

Rates for insomnia across the services rose consistently beginning in 2005 and peaking in 2015 before dropping slightly. Sleep apnea diagnoses peaked in 2016, but remained higher than they had been previously, according to the research.

The highest rates for both disorders were found in the Army, with more cases diagnosed than expected; the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps had lower-than-expected rates. Yet all services saw increases.

Those most likely to be diagnosed with either disorder were married, male, White, age 40 or older, and higher-ranking enlisted soldiers.

“These findings are concerning because service members across the military branches are otherwise healthy and have similar physical requirements. Their sleep disorders developed and were diagnosed while they were in the military,” Mysliwiec said.

Mysliwiec said he’d like to see more focus on healthy sleep habits and scheduling to ensure that service members don’t suffer from disrupted sleep or run the risk of developing a sleep disorder.

“There’s this perception that military personnel, in some way, shape or form, cause their sleep disorders. That’s just wrong,” he said. “‘Oh, they drink lots of caffeine. That causes their sleep disorders.’ Well, they drink lots of caffeine because they have to work 12-, 14-, 16-hour days and need to stay awake. They have to have a coping mechanism.

“How do we prevent people from needing to get these drinks to stay awake and perform their military duties? And if we do make them work 36 hours, do we give them time to sleep and recover after?” he added.

The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart; and thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness,”(Deuteronomy 28:28-29)

~ by Joel Huan on April 14, 2021.

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